Let’s face it- for the majority of us, after high school, playing sports will be narrowed down significantly. Outside of beer league softball, Thanksgiving Day football (hung over of course), golf with the boss and the occasional kickball/volleyball game at the yearly family reunion, pickup hoops will probably be what gets your sports jollies off from the time you’re 19 until about 40 years old.
With that said, playing pickup hoops can bring you great irritation when played with former football, baseball and soccer players that need to fill the next portion of their life with a sport to play. But this doesn’t just go for the newly acquired 19 year-old former high school lineman. Everyone has played with the dude from the “D” school that held an average of 37 students per grade. This fella still thinks he’s the star of his shitty high school team despite a career of intramural hoops following his highly decorated high school career that saw him playing against 5’11 pudgy, white centers.
So after playing a solid 12 years of hoops following a rather unimpressive high school career which led to a short stint at a JUCO college, I’ve decided to help everyone out by giving them the unofficial 10 Commandments of playing pickup basketball. And trust me, I’ve played all over the place and this is very much needed. So get off your lazy ass – or in this case move the mouse to the URL and copy-and-paste this to your Facebook or Twitter feeds so that we all can get rid of these monsters and idiots that are killing the pickup hoops experience for the rest of us!
10.) Thou shall not be the coach
Listen, we all understand the basics of hoops. Nobody likes the know-it-all that is yelling at you or lecturing you. What is it with these dudes that turn into Coach K while bringing the ball up? No, I’m not going to run off a million screens “shoulder-to-shoulder” or “cut” every time you are dribbling. Quit barking out commands, Norman Dale, and pass the ball. Oh, and in case I forgot- shut up!
Sorry old fellas, but you guys are the worst at this. Everything has to be picks, screens and movement when you’re on offense. Well guess what? This isn’t “Hoosiers!” So, since you probably just woke up from a nap, let me educate you; hoops is now dominated by one-on-one ball and pulling up off the dribble. But don’t worry, the pick and roll is still used! Anyway, I get it sucks to be old and thus, can’t rely on athleticism, but the set shot off 900 picks/screens are long gone. Adapt old-timer.
Lastly, don’t be yelling out “hands” or be the dude that calls the team together to switch to a 2-3 zone. Seriously, anyone that suggests running zone in pickup ball should have his nuts clipped. It’s pickup ball! I don’t care if you have five guards going up against five centers, just play you over-thinking idiot!
9.) Thou shall not be a ball hog
If thou be a ball hog then thou shall not eat…alright I’ll quit with saying “thou.” I was in the moment, alright!
If you have three or four ducks on your team, then by all means, go directly into jack mode. But if you have a few guys that are alright at basketball, don’t be that dude that thinks he’s Kobe Bryant.
We have all played with plenty of dudes that take the ball coast-to-coast and either pull up for a nicely contested 25 foot prayer, or try to drive to the hoop with the entire defense collapsed on him. Look idiot, I’m not here to play defense while you morph into Allen Iverson. Don’t be afraid to yell at this guy to pass. Nothing grinds my gears like the guy who thinks he’s nuts. You’re not nuts…well unless he is good, in which case he is nuts.
The point is this- I don’t care how good you are, move the damn ball around or at least set your teammates up. If I can pass the ball, than you can pass the ball – and I’m pretty damn good at scoring and dribbling the air out of the rock.
8.) Don’t be the “injury” dude
I play with a great buddy of mine named Cliff. I love Cliff. He’s a good dude, but he’s “injured” more than anyone I know. But these aren’t real ACL tears or fractured fibulas – at least not after the initial 28 seconds when he’s on the ground clutching his leg.
These are the type of injuries where Cliff is on the ground for a minute or two with “said” potential ACL tear, but then is leading the two-on-one fast break five minutes later.
In other words…don’t be Cliff.
7.) Don’t play defense with your hands
There is a way in going about this so that you’re not breaking commandment number 10 if playing with the fella that likes to get handsy .
It’s pickup ball so you’re already going against the grain playing against older guys and out-of-shape dudes that accidentally hip check ya or smack ya in the face because they can’t move like they used to.
I’ll keep this simple. Don’t be using your hands to catch up to the guard that blew past you by slightly grabbing his shirt or forearming him away from the easy path he had to the rim. And for you big guys, if you can’t jump let’s go with the arms-straight-up-in-the-air technique instead of going for the Dwight Howard-esque, block shot. I don’t need a black eye or a chipped tooth.
I have a solution for you fellas that go up against the guy who just won’t play defense by moving his feet: since you can’t call a foul every time he molests you, take off your shirt and let him feel your slimy beer belly or hairy chest when he defends you. I bet he stops real quickly…unless he’s of Jason Collin’s ilk – in which case you may have a larger issue on your hands…pardon the pun.
6.) Refrain from yelling obscenities or punting the ball after losses
Everyone hates to lose, it’s not just you. Why anyone has to act like Samuel L. Jackson is beyond me. Nobody needs to hear you yell out every damn curse word you can think of while punting the ball because you lost a game of pickup hoops. And if it’s during the summer on an outside court, you will look like an even bigger moron.
My buddy Rick was once the recipient of the-basketball-to-the-dome-punt, courtesy of this large lug who was pissed he had lost. This dude who punted the ball has the frame of an outside linebacker and the leg of Sebastian Janikowski. Come to think of it, he kind of looked like Seabass.
Anyway, this guy punts the ball that had the speed equivalent to an Aroldis Chapman fast ball. As the ball is flying through the air, everyone’s heads are turning watching the inevitable unfold. And as you can guess, the basketball, moving at an insane rate of speed, nails my buddy Rick in the head. How he’s not dead is beyond me, but the subsequent brain damage I have witnessed since that day is troubling.
5.) Don’t be the “foul or AND 1” guy
The foul guy is actually two different guys. Let me explain.
On offense, this is the dude that will call a foul if you breathe on him. This guy thinks he’s a cross between James Harden and Paul Pierce when he’s driving to the hoop. He’ll yell out an awkward scream when attacking the rim like he just was mugged. This also leads to the douche yelling “AND 1” if the ball goes in.
On defense, this is usually the former football player that only knows one speed and that’s full speed. This is the steroid dude that isn’t playing a friendly game of pickup ball, he’s playing barn ball and probably is having flashbacks of sacking the quarterback instead of moving his feet laterally.
Why the steroid dude is playing hoops is beyond me. We’ve all played with this asshole that has no business playing basketball, but some moron invited him down. This might be the worst guy to play with. It’s not really his fault, he just only knows one speed and that speed is conducive for things like torn ACLs, broken bones, teeth and concussions. Not exactly what most people are looking for that have to be up at 8 a.m. the next day for work.
Lastly, I have to revert back to the douche that yells “AND 1” every time he goes hard to the cup. Nobody wants to hear “all day” or “AND 1” when you score. Would this fly in any other hobby or game? I couldn’t imagine playing grandma in Monopoly and yelling “all day” when she lands on Park Place where I have a red hotel that consequently cripples her bankroll.
Lesson here: Everyone hates these guys. Do not be this animal on the court!
4.) Where the correct apparel
This, like amendment five, can consist of two different hoopsters.
The 47-year-old version of this is the old man who is playing with the Larry Bird shorts on. Which is fine if this was 1987. But it’s not. It’s 2015. Nobody wants to see your hairy-ass man-thighs and we certainly don’t want to have a scenario take place that sees this guy fall on us. I’m fairly certain nobody wants to have ol’ Frank’s junk within striking distance of their face because of a collision that took place fighting for a rebound.
But this isn’t just the old fella that is caught in 1978. There is a nice generation of ‘tards that wear arm bands/sleeves, compression knee sleeves for no reason, high socks, headbands and under armor.
I’m thoroughly confused by both of these guys. I can at least wrap my head around the 51 year-old that has played half his life with the shorts that would fit a bikini model. I just don’t understand the 22 year-old nut job that takes 45 minutes to get ready for ball by gelling his hair and putting on several different accessories? You’re playing with a bunch of other dudes, why are you worried about what you look like? I get it if you are playing in front of a crowd and you want to dress to impress, but playing with 12-20 other dudes between the ages of 18-50 is baffling to me.
Easy solution here lads. Throw on some shorts that hit the knee caps and either a regular shirt or cutoff will do. Oh, and don’t be the muscle head that wears the shirt that is showing off your pecs and abs. Seriously, there isn’t anything in it for us.
3.) Pick/shoot for captains – not teams
This is a huge bugaboo of mine because it’s a colossal waste of time.
How often have you ran into a scenario where it takes 15-20 minutes to shoot for teams? Assuming you’re playing with more than 8 dudes, you often times waste the first 20 minutes shooting for teams. And unless you own a gym or start playing hoops outside at noon on a gorgeous day, you have about two hours to ball. Not to mention most people over 18 have a thing called a job or college to be at. So why are we wasting 20 minutes in the beginning to shoot up teams? (Insert about 10 explanation points after this).
How hard is it to either recognize the best four players, guards, big men and make them captains OR just shoot and the first four-to-six players that make their foul shot are captains?
I’ll tell you why. People don’t want their feelings hurt. Nobody wants to be either left out or one of the last picked. Well guess what? If you’re not chosen than that should tell you something – (spoiler alert) or you are a prime example of commandment number one!
Plus, this usually balances out the teams. While it’s pickup ball and you usually just roll with whoever is on your team, commandment number three at least will balance out the teams for the night – unless you’re captain is totally oblivious of the players he is choosing.
So quit wasting time! My method allows for better games because the teams will be balanced and more games. Or you can continue your idiotic way of waiting for dudes to hit their free throws while another 10 minutes goes by.
2.) Call out the score after EVERY basket
If I was given a quarter for every time there was an argument in pickup ball over the score I certainly wouldn’t be writing articles for my website. But maybe that’s a good thing because otherwise we wouldn’t have the official 10 Commandments of Pickup Hoops to refer to.
The worst part of the inevitable argument that takes place over the score is that it’s always the same dude who’s bitching about the score not being right. I’m not going to call this douche a cheater, but he seems to be in this equation quite a bit. Actually, you know what? Screw it, this dude is a cheater. You can’t be the center of every damn argument over the score being wrong and not at least be questioned for cheating! Well, come to think of it, I suppose this idiot could have a poor memory and thus screws up the score because previous games confuse him.
So instead of having the game stop, simply YELL out the score after every bucket and stoppage of play. This sounds easy but is often forgotten. I don’t care if a team just scored and you are checking the ball up immediately after because of a foul or turnover. Just call out the damn score and save everyone from the annoying argument that takes place at least once every game.
1.) If you suck, don’t play
Commandment number one seems rather obvious, but trust me, it is anything but obvious. Simply put, if you haven’t picked up a basketball the first 20 years of your life, do us all a favor and continue that streak.
If you can’t dribble, shoot, play defense or understand basketball from a middle school level, then basketball isn’t for you. Why the hell anyone at 26 years-old decides that basketball is in their immediate future is beyond me. Just don’t play. If you want exercise, go run the track or buy a treadmill.
I should clarify.
Just because you can dribble the ball with one hand or hit the rim on a three-point attempt, doesn’t mean you should lace up your Nike kicks. I’ve played with these cornballs that come out of the woodwork every Monday night to play a little hoops down at the high school or YMCA and I literally come home ready to break shit!
And EVERYONE who has played a little recreational ball know what I’m talking about. This idiot will throw a bad pass, airball wide open jump shots, play no defense and ultimately cost you the game. Then, to make matters worse, he will walk off the court without any guilt or recognition that he was the reason his team lost!
Jesus, I need a damn quaalude just thinking about this guy.
I’m holding everyone who plays ball accountable for now on. It’s up to us to end this ugly trend of random dudes trying to play ball.
Alright, I have to go booze before I really lose my shit…